According to a survey released earlier this week by Siemens, many companies are uncertain about how to identify opportunities and reach goals for energy efficiency, especially in the realm of their data processing and storage. The study, which examined general IT efficiency attitudes and practices, revealed that nearly three quarters of the Fortune 2000 respondents (87%) believe it is important to pursue overall energy efficient practices, but only 48% have a stated goal to reduce their carbon footprint, and even less have begun to take action.
“As businesses continue to search for ways to save money and alleviate the strain on the power grid, green technology across the board is becoming a necessity rather than just ‘the right thing to do’—examining and implementing data center efficiencies is one major area we cannot overlook,” stated Ken Cornelius, CEO of Siemens One, a business unit of Siemens AG. “If we do not start looking closely at our data centers now, 70% of the world’s data centers will have tangible system disruptions by 2011 and the systems will experience world-wide brown outs over the course of the next five years.”
Data centers account for 2.5% of the world’s energy use, which is expected to grow by 12% a year, placing more strain on the power grid. The EPA notes that the energy used by data centers in the U.S. is more than the electricity consumed by all of the nation’s color TV sets and comparable to the electricity consumption of approximately 5.8 million homes. According to the Siemens survey, a majority (65%) of leading Fortune 2000 companies recently reported that the costs of running their data centers have increased over the last few years.
Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said the size of the investment was the primary barrier to improving their data center energy efficiency, followed by lack of specific information on the return of the investment for making changes (38%), server down time required to implement changes (38%), and concerns about running legacy software on new systems (34%).
Respondents also showed concern about their data centers exceeding processing capacity and the risk of losing their data. About one-quarter (27%) worry a “brown out” or exceeding process capacity will affect their data centers, while 27% are worried about losing data, 15% worry about aging facilities, and 10% expressed concern about high energy costs.
“The tools and technologies are available to help companies get started—whether it is simply through server virtualization, installing power monitoring systems, retrofitting an existing structure, or with new construction,” added Cornelius.
The above findings were the result of a survey commissioned by Siemens Corporation and KRC Research from October 23 to November 24, 2008. A nationally represented sample included top, high, and mid-level executives of Fortune 2000 companies that are in some way involved in making decisions about their companies’ data centers. Because Fortune magazine does not publish a list of the top 2000 companies, the sample was created by extending the Fortune criteria: the 2000 largest American companies, ranked by annual revenue.
(Photo courtesy of Siemens)